So, How We Doin'? Maryland 2022
i'm on the train right now en route to DC. And every time I do one of these train trips I get all kinds of train questions. So I'll attempt to answer a bunch of train questions and then I'll write my first "So, How We Doin'?" post of the year.
We started SHWD last year as the basketball version of the SOC. Tyler writes some of them, I write some of them. I had too much football stuff going on to work in SHWD posts last month, but it's December now, and I'm on a train to DC, and it's time to start writing basketball previews again.
Where on the train? I'm in the dining car right now. The attended is making up my bed in the sleeper car so I walked to the dining car to write this. What does the dining car look like? I guess I could take a pic and post it right here.
I kinda love it. I mean, if I squint I can see Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney down there at the last table signing about snow.
I'll soon be there with snow
(chk-a-chk chk-a-chk chk-a-chk chk-a-chk)
I'll wash my hair with snow
(chk-a-chk chk-a-chk chk-a-chk chk-a-chk)
OK, so you have questions about why I take the train. I'll try to answer them.
The main question I get is about the time it takes. The train that I'm on - overnight from Chicago to Washington DC - leaves Chicago a little before 7:00 pm and gets in to DC at 1:00 pm the next day. Subtract an hour for the time zone and that's 17 hours. Add in the 2.5 hour trip up to Chicago and doesn't a flight make more sense? Well, sure. I could have maybe driven up to Chicago tomorrow morning (or taken a flight out of Champaign through Chicago) and then flown to DC tomorrow afternoon. Or I could have driven straight to DC (11 hours) for a lot less money. But here's the sweet spot I believe I found:
A sleeper car, to me, is simply a moving hotel room. I'm gonna be paying for the room, so why not have it move across the country? For the next 17 hours I'll either be sleeping or writing. So being on this train that means my Thursday and Friday are mostly uninterrupted laptop time. Someone else is doing the driving for me and I can spend all of my time working on the site. Today was nine consecutive hours of researching and writing that One Score Games article. And tonight I'm writing this SHYD. And tomorrow I'll wake up on the train and try to get caught up on subscriber stuff. And then I'll arrive in DC and watch the Illini play Maryland.
(And then I'll take a train to NYC on Sunday. And then I'll cover the Illini at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. And then I'll take another overnight train back to Chicago.)
Other benefits of the sleeper car?
- Meals are included. And they're really good. I'll come down to the dining car for both breakfast and lunch tomorrow.
- Drinks are often free. That gin & tonic right here next to me? $0.00.
- If you want to stay in your room and eat there, the attended will take your order and then bring all of your food and drink to your room.
- The attendants make up the bed for you (the two seats fold down into a bed and when they make it up they put a foam cushion on top and then the sheets).
So just picture how that works for someone who wants to just sit at his laptop and write all day. I can do just that, have my food and drink brought to me, and someone else drives me to the game. Add in the time I'm asleep while the train moves across the country and I don't feel one ounce of travel interruption. I would be sitting at my desk right now writing this. What's the difference between sitting at that desk or sitting at this table? I just happen to have found a table that's moving towards where I need to be tomorrow.
The train is basically the exact opposite of an airplane. An airplane will get you there quickly but you'll be crammed in there for three hours. A train will get you there slowly but you're free to wander from the very front to the very back. Or just sit in your room and write while ordering another gin & tonic. And it costs less than I'd be paying for flight + hotel + meals. Train FTW.
Moving on to the Maryland game.
I don't think I understand how Maryland is any good this year but they are. I talked about how we've climbed from 33 to 15 on KenPom as the preseason assumptions fade away and the actual data takes over. Well, Maryland has jumped from 56 to 20 on KenPom with their results so far. They played a really good St. Louis team and won 95-67 (neutral court) and they played a solid Miami (FL) team and won 88-70. Their transfers have fit like a glove and first-year coach Kevin Willard has them humming along.
The guard they picked up from Charlotte (Jahmir Young) has been really good. 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3.2 assists so far. And Illini killer Donta Scott is still there (16 ppg, 6.4 rpg). Add in a sophomore leap from Julian Reese and a steady senior in Hakim Hart and Maryland has four players averaging 13.5 ppg or more.
And Maryland is also our kryptonite for whatever reason. We would have won the Big Ten in 2020 if not for that stupid game where we led Maryland the entire way and lost 59-58. That meant we finished one game out of first. And we would have won the Big Ten in 2021 (even with the fuzzy math) if not for that stupid game in front of no crowd where we led the whole way but fell asleep with three minutes to go until Maryland went on a crazy run to win. And we would have won the Big Ten outright and not shared it with Wisconsin last year if not for that stupid Friday night game without Kofi where we played our worst conference game of the season.
So should we expect more of that? I'm not feeling it tonight. For whatever the reason (maybe it's the Tanqueray), I'm feeling a win.
Maybe it's as simple as these two things:
1. Mark Turgeon is no longer there.
For whatever reason, Mark Turgeon had Brad Underwood's number the same way that Underwood has Juwan Howard's number. With Turgeon gone, maybe we'll begin a new era where Underwood has Kevin Willard's number.
2. We have the length to guard Donta Scott.
I don't even want to look up how much Scott has destroyed us the last few years. Guys like him would drive last year's team nuts. But we traded Plummer and Trent and Da'Monte for all these guys with incredible length so maybe (for the first time) we can shut down Donta Scott.
That's what I'm hoping for. And I'm going to bed before I can change my mind.
I'd love to stay up with you but I recommend a little shuteye go to sleep
And dream of
Illinois 68, Maryland 64